I was sick.
The first thing I tell people about that week in Minnesota was that I caught a cold that really knocked the heck out of me. And it wasn’t just me. In fact, I still think I got sick from being around the Eagles that week after the illness ripped through the locker room.
When it’s hovering around 0 degrees, it just feels awfully hard to get over a cold. So as I look back at Feb. 4, 2018, that’s where I’ll start.
It was frigid that day.
Our coverage of Super Bowl Sunday began at 10 a.m. so I got to US Bank Stadium incredibly early and set up in our shared NBC trailer right outside the stadium. But just after I made my way through security, I was able to snap this photo.
Then I had some time to kill. I wanted to make sure I got to the stadium early but I didn’t have my first TV hit for a while, so I decided to go inside the stadium and check out the scene. Remember, this was many hours before the game, so it was pretty empty in there.
There are three things I remember about the hours before I settled into my seat at the stadium:
1. It was so cold and I didn’t have gloves with me because I’m an idiot. Luckily, our producer Sean Kane let me borrow his gloves for my live hits. I held the microphone in my right hand and when I was done, used my left to pry my fingers off of it.
2. Charlie Weis was doing some work for NBC during that Super Bowl and was hanging out in our trailer. Nice guy.
3. I was in a daze because of my cold and the cold medicine. I remember thinking that if I felt like crap, I was sure the sick players did too. But then I remembered their bodies function at a higher level.
Eventually, I entered the stadium and got set up about 4 1/2 hours before kickoffs, which is extremely early.
The moment fans were let into the stadium was pretty cool because Eagles fans started to take over.
Hours before kickoff, I had already heard the first E-A-G-L-E-S chant in the stadium and they only got louder.
Then the game started and it was honestly kind of a blur. It’s honestly still kind of a blur.
There are some things about the actual game that I really didn’t remember until I watched it back. It was one of those games that was just really hard to keep up with. But I definitely remember thinking to myself early on that Nick Foles was on. Seeing enough of Foles during his career, there were good days and bad. And in this one, I got the sense pretty early that it was going to be a good day.
Because of the back-and-forth nature of that game, I know my colleague Reuben Frank was sweating it out as he tried to write his 10 observations. On top of it, he was also an MVP voter so he had a lot on his plate.
Normally near the end of the game, Roob and I will huddle up to split up our assignments for post-game. But he had covered a Super Bowl before, so he knew if the Eagles won, we’d have time to come up with a plan. The ceremony takes a while.
The last thing I remember from the game was just how long that Hail Mary from Tom Brady seemed to flutter through the air. For as loud as the stadium was just a few minutes earlier, it seemed completely silent for that second that felt like an hour.
After the ball fell incomplete, I began to quickly finish up my buzzer story but then realized, “Hey, I should probably document this moment.”
So I did:
Before leaving the press box, we split up some stories. Roob was going to write about MVP Nick Foles and rookie Corey Clement, who just finished with 100 yards receiving. My initial job was to write about that trick play the Eagles ran — we didn’t know what it was called yet — and Brandon Graham, who made the play of the game.
In the bowels of US Bank Stadium, they had interview rooms set up with podiums for several players. Jay Ajayi walked into the room with the Union Jack draped over his shoulder yelling, “We’re the best in the world.”
I needed to find out about that play the Eagles ran late in the second quarter, so I went to Trey Burton’s podium and heard the words “Philly Special” for the first time in my life.
From there, I talked to Brent Celek. The last game of his NFL career was Super Bowl LII. Even though he didn’t retire on the spot, it was just cool to see him as a champion.
After a few interviews at the podiums, I made my way into the Eagles’ locker room at US Bank Stadium and entered a wild scene. The first player I saw when I entered the locker room was Alshon Jeffery, who many gave credit for predicting the championship. But Jeffery wasn’t ready to talk yet — he still needed a few more minutes to process — so I began snapping some photos.
Finally, Alshon was ready to talk and he was happy to take credit:
From there, I talked to a few others. Graham, Nelson Agholor, who said he knew Foles would catch the ball on the Philly Special because Foles is great at ultimate frisbee, Howie Roseman.
Then there was the moment when “Dreams and Nightmares” came on in the locker room. The Meek Mill track became the theme of that postseason run but the players would normally listen to it in the locker room before reporters got in there. Late on Super Bowl Sunday evening, it was a surreal experience to be in the locker room while it played. It also paused interviews for a few minutes because you couldn’t hear anything.
After leaving the locker room, I ran into DL coach Chris Wilson and told him he was right. Earlier in the week, he told me the game would be close and his guys would need to be patient, even if they didn’t get to Brady all game. And then Graham had that huge strip sack late.
I spent all night writing.
I really felt that last one. Because it was pretty weird watching the celebration unfold in the Eagles locker room as players watched videos of the celebration that was already unfolding back in Philly. They couldn’t wait to get back and have a parade.
The next morning, we went back to the Mall of America for press conferences with Foles and Doug Pederson. On no sleep, I was running on Caribou Coffee and there were no shortages of them in the mall the size of a freaking city.
My flight out of Minnesota was canceled that next day. I told the lady at the Delta desk, “I don’t care where I go. Just get me out of here.” After an overnight layover in Chicago, I was back in Philly a couple days later, still in a fog.
Three years later and it still seems just as surreal.
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